The first piratical act in Daniel Handler's We Are Pirates (Bloomsbury Circus, £12.99) is a flamboyant burst of shoplifting by teenage Gwen. Though it horrifies her parents - struggling radio producer Phil and diet-ravaged Marina - it is nothing to what follows when Gwen teams up with rebel teen Amber and former sea captain Errol, a resident of the local old-age home.
Looking after Errol is Gwen's punishment but things get gory when the trio take to the high seas as pirates - accidentally kidnapping a nice Jewish schoolboy and scuppering Phil Needle's big radio break in the process. The quirky humour of Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) keeps the plot bobbing along but it eventually runs aground on the rocks of credibility. Age 12 up.
For more swashbuckling adventures, plus insights into Chinese and English history, The History Keepers: Nightship to China by Damien Dibben (Corgi, £7.99) is also recommended. Age 11 up.
Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury, £6.99) is not just another story of a teenage girl reunited with her birth mother and befriended by a quirky boy. It is also about torn loyalty towards her grandmother, who has brought her up; the subtleties of school bullying; and the ability of poetry to express emotional truth. Age 10 up.
Imagine you're a dog and you look after a small human you call Rover. You're used to doing fun things like scratching your head on the sofa together. Then, one day, the larger humans in the house take Rover away, to a sort of cage with lots of small humans in it. You'd try to rescue her, wouldn't you? Monster, a picture book by Michael Rosen and Neal Layton (Bloomsbury, £6.99) is a hilarious dog's-eye view of a child's first day at school. Age three up.
For a joyously improbable combination of animals with modes of transport, try You Can't Take an Elephant on the Bus by Patricia Cleveland-Peck and David Tazzyman (Bloomsbury, £6.99).
I Was Here by Gayle Forman (Simon & Schuster, £7.99) is the kind of novel where the reader wants to shout "don't go into that house - just call the police!" Cody thought she knew her best friend Meg but now she is investigating her suicide. Accompanied by attractive but abrasive musician Ben, Cody sets out on an emotional road trip. Age 14 up.